If you’ve ever seen this nighttime animal before, you know that the owl has big, curious eyes and makes a unique “hoot” sound. Owls are almost famous for their wise appearance, because their intelligent eyes glow and they stare so intensely. Let’s explore some owl facts!
You may be surprised to learn that owls are very interesting creatures, and there is a lot to learn about their mysterious ways. They do a lot more than just hoot all night long!
Owls can be found in all different types of habitats, and every continent except Antarctica contains species of owls. You can find owls in many places, from forests and deserts to mountains and prairies. It all depends on which species of owl you’re talking about, and there are a staggering 150 documented species of owls (possibly even more, depending on how you classify the different species).
▪ 19 species of owls are found in North America, including the following: barn owl, burrowing owl, eastern screech owl, great grey owl, spotted owl, and the long-eared owl, among many others.
▪ No matter where the owl lives, one thing is certain – they are most active at night. Unlike us humans, owls are nocturnal and prefer to stay awake and be active at night. This is why a person who enjoys staying up late at night is often jokingly called a night owl!
▪ Most owls do not go through the trouble of making their own nest – they just use an old tree cavity or another’s bird’s old nest.
▪ Although their diet largely depends on the species of owl, most owls like to eat insects, small mammals (like hares and rabbits), and other smaller birds. It is also common for owls to eat rodents, squirrels, bats, weasels, woodchucks, and even the random domestic cat as well. Aren’t you happy that your diet isn’t like an owl’s diet?
▪ Owls very rarely drink water – they get most of the hydration they need from the prey they feast on. It is quite rare to see an owl drinking water, but you might see them taking a bath.
▪ Owls cannot actually chew their food because they do not have teeth. They use their beak to tear apart their food and eat it.
▪ Most owls have notably large eyes, a flat face, and a large head. They also have a small, hooked beak that is downturned.
▪ Owls generally have a rigid posture. Imagine trying to stand as straight as possible all of the time – the owl naturally has excellent posture!
▪ Owls are birds of prey, meaning they have to hunt for food to survive. For this reason, they have very large, sharp talons used for catching their food. There are four toes on these talons, and one is opposable (like the human thumb) aiding owls in grasping things like tree branches and prey.
▪ The size of an owl may vary, but most owls are at the lower end of the size range, with lengths of about 13–70 cm (5–28 inches) and wingspans between 0.3–2.0 metres (1–6.6 feet). Females and males often look very similar, but the females are usually about 25 percent larger.
▪ Believe it or not, although owls mostly vary in size and appearance, they have one interesting ability in common – they can turn their heads an astonishing 270 degrees! This is thanks to their necks containing double the amount of vertebrae “normal” birds have in their necks. It makes for a very funny sight to see.
▪ Believe it or not, despite having very large eyes, owls do not have eyeballs. They actually have something more like eye tubes. Lengthened and held in place by “sclerotic rings,” a bony structure in the skull, this interesting feature means that owls can’t really move or roll their eyes.
▪ Believe it or not, owls are very silent fliers. Seriously, they don’t make a peep when they fly. This is due mainly to very broad wings and special flying feathers that reduce the noise when an owl flaps its wings.
▪ Believe it or not, despite popular belief, not all owls make that infamous “hoot” sound. Owls can actually make many different sounds – they can screech, hiss, and even growl!
▪ Believe it or not, the female owl is more aggressive and bigger than the male owl.